tv Q A CSPAN July 12, 2009 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
and vietnam. wisconsin. he left before i got there. in 1972. >> why was the legendary at the university of wisconsin? >> i was a history major and he had already made his reputation as a historian. >> why were you left-wing? >> that is a very good question. i arrived in wisconsin in 1963 when the vietnam war was just beginning to really heat up. i got caught up in the anti-war movement. it was really my peers around me at the atmosphere constant.
it seemed natural to adapt those views. >> ronald radosh what is your version of this story? >> my version might be slightly different. i went to a very different kind of high school. i wrote about that in my memoirs. i went to a high school the was affiliated with an elementary school. all of the teachers were communists or fellow travelers. the alumni of that school was a who's who of the old left and the new left, angela davis, you can name them, they all went there. it was a who's who of the west -- left wing politics. i went to wisconsin, very much on the left.
i became an activist leader for the beginnings of the new left. i was well known on campus. it was a premier left wing group 1 i'll left. >> this book was written in what year? what i do not remember any more. >> i think it was in 2001. >> right. >> you let it all hang out. >> right, absolutely. i wanted to write a memoir that was truthful and with a great deal of sense of humor about the past. it is good to not take yourself too seriously and have a lot of fun. i did. what's it like a figure right, you have been married 34-years.
how much politics was your relationship based on? >> i would say that in the early years, after we met at the anti- war movement demonstration, for many years, we considered ourselves on the left and then we pretty much shift in away from that together. >> she was so left wing that in 1972, i was supporting the george mcgovern for president and she would not vote for him because she thought he was too right wing. >> what changed? how would you describe your politics today? >> i would consider myself a moderate considered -- moderate conservative on the center. someone call me libertarian on social issues. i am against affirmative action
and fiscally conservative and i had generally hawkish, leaning more towards a tough national security stance. >> we will talk about your new his book in a moment. how many of these books that your husband has written have you been involved with? >> this is the second one. we did "red star over hollywood" together. we did the two books differently. with the hollywood bowl, we'd each drafted different chapters. i did a little bit more reorganizing of materials. i did very extensive out lines for each chapter. then ron ticket and wrote the first draft and then we passed it back and forth about five
times and kept working on it. >> what book is this for you? the 14th or the 15th. >> i think we both think that this is the best book that we have worked on. this is the best book i have been involved in. we're very proud of it. we think it encompassed a great narrative history that tells a story that remains fairly unknown and untold. this was aliss's idea. she did what most historians do not do. we went through a lot of people's memoirs and oral histories that are generally ignored, especially when historians write on this story. >> the book, overall is about what? >> it is about truman and the
founding of israel from 1945 to 1948 when he recognized the state, making america the first country to do so. >> you said you were doing unusual research in the people's memoirs. >> people have written on this topic. but people have written about this and have not touched upon scores of memoirs of people that were involved that tell a dramatic personal stories. we tried to integrate their stories in the narrative into the text. you come upon this with different views. you see, at the time, what the people that were involved, whether they went to investigate the situation in palestine. we went through all the narratives.
we tied it all together in a dramatic way. it makes it very appealing to the general public. i don't like -- we both have a ph.d. in history. writing just for the other historians, if you read a lot of historians, they do not know how to white and they can be very dull. they do not know how to tell a story. scholarship is important and accuracy is important and research is important, but you have to know how to tell a story in order to reach people. that is what we try to do. >> there is not a day goes by since 1948 that israel has not been in a newspaper in this country. what do to learn as you went through your research?
>> we were concerned about the affairs for roosevelt and truman. he came to the conclusion that if roosevelt had not passed away and truman had not become president, there probably would not be in israel. that really intrigued us to begin with. >> what did he say? >> that is what his point was. roosevelt never would have done what truman did. he would not have recognized israel the way that truman did. >> why is that? >> roosevelt, during the war, was playing both sides against each other. he was telling the arabs want thank, that we would never encourage you to state, and he was telling the jews and other. he would not have been able to keep this up. >> the very last people that
franklin roosevelt sol before he went and had his stroke, the last to visitors in the white house were representatives of the american jewish committee. that was a non zionist group. it did not particularly support the creation of a jewish state. he told those leading representatives that he was scared to death with the king of saudi arabia and that he was very worried about the demands of the zionists and he said he would not support a jewish state and that he would support the rights of american jews, but not a jewish state. that was his position. that was very significant. he told the zionist leader the opposite a few months earlier. roosevelt told everyone what
they wanted to hear. >> you say in your book that fdr died on april 12, 1945 and that harry truman recognized israel on may 14 1948. we're talking for years. >> that's right. >> what is a zionist? >> phase i and this is someone who believes that jews has a right to their own homeland. >> where does the words i am come from? >> i guess it was synonymous with palestine. or maybe home because. -- or may be home. he was not sure it was or to be in palestine.
back in those years, how many people lived in palestine? >> i do not remember the figures. >> by 1945, there were 600,000 jews in palestine. but a lot of them had come during world war two. there was always a jewish presence in palestine. >> of the outline of palestine is what? >> there are so many definitions of palestine. in the beginning, palestine was in jordan. the british lopped off jordan from palestine as a whole and created a separate country. then, the scientists would argue that the rest of palestine was supposed to be the jewish state. it was partitioned one more time between israel and an arab
state. >> there was a famous conference in 1946 -- 1943. they made a major decision that even though their conception of the jewish state would mean all of palestine, including jordan and the areas promised under the commission and 1936, the compromised and agreed to a much smaller area that they said they would accept as a jewish state which meant that they would accept, when the un voted for the partition, but there would be a jewish state and an arab state. they won the fight. that was very significant. >> i am harry truman and i am
looking around and i am looking at my state department and the defense department and i am looking over towards israel. what do i see? i am looking at the jews in america which were about 5 million. i look at the state department. who is over there? >> the state department is run by what we call the arabists. people in the department who ran what was called the near east desk which dealt with all of palestine. they have one position. american policy should be friendly to the interests of the arab states because we needed to things without which we could not protect our national security. access to oil and military bases.
since the arab leaders said over and over again that we would not accept any jewish state in that region, they argued that american security would be violated if a jewish state were created and they were adamant about that. >> what did he see over it at the defense department? >> a similar viewpoint. in fact, he was very anti zionist and completely agreed with the arabists in the state department. his main concern was oil. >> he said that to truman and there is a famous meeting when truman shoots back to him that he is not concerned about oil.
oompah were any of these human beings anti-jewish? >> the man who was most instrumental in the near east desk was loy henderson. -- loyd anderson -- loyd henderson. he made statements that indicated an animosity to jews. but they also try and a few clever arguments. other people did not notice. this grab me as soon as i saw it. there was this joint letter that he wrote to truman on this issue, co-authored with a famous architect.
it has his hand mark and it is clearly written by him. what they said was that one of the reasons you should not have a jewish state is that it would create a backlash of anti- semitism in the united states because jews would be seen as having a dual loyalty to the jewish state and to america. that would produce rampant anti- semitism. >> i am sitting in harry truman's seat and i look over towards palestine. who runs palestine in those years? >> the british have the mandate over palestine. >> where did they get that? >> they received it from the league of nations after world war one.
they were in control. >> in what way? did that mean that if i lived in palestine, i had to answer to lay british government? >> yes. much of their time they were trying to keep the peace and there was a lot of conflict there between arabs and jews in the air is the jews in the british and then finally it came to a head and the british said that they cannot deal with this, they were giving it to the united nations. >> at the time, some may be confused. you're referring to the jewish residents of palestine. the arabs did not call themselves pair palestinians -- call themselves palestinians. there were called the existing jewish community. they have their own ministration and essentially a local government that they had
created with all the infrastructure of a real government. they were run by a jewish agency. then it was the legal governing authority. they had built up, over the years, and actual state within the state. what is striking is that is something the palestinian arabs have not done. despite all of the things, there is no real infrastructure of a palestinian state of the way the jews in palestine built up an existing state. by 1948, all of the state department memos would be sent back with a memo that there is a jewish state exists. when we recognize it, we're just recognizing that we're just
recognizing reality because the state exists, it is just not recognized. >> in your research, did you find any idea what the american people thought back then? >> there were some polls taken and one in 1945 actually surprised the truman administration. it was taken and it was found that those americans that knew about the possibility of their being a jewish state in palestine, the overwhelming majority supported it and a supportive america. there was widespread support for such a state. >> 1 reference was from colorado.
the british foreign office, actually, the embassy here into the office in london. it's reported that johnson had given a speech. that speech had gotten tremendous support in colorado. what you have to understand our of there are no jews in colorado, yet they support a jewish state. there was a large sentiment of christian zionism, of christians, based on their analysis of the bible and their sympathy of the plight of the jews, they supported the creation of a jewish state. this was a large mainstream movement. new york had the largest jewish population in america. but wagner was a member of the american christian palestine
movement. >> when truman was a senator, he was a member of the organization as well. >> so, i am sitting at my desk and i am looking at the un and what am i seeing at the u.n.? >> the u.n. had just been created. it was a new organization there was a question as to whether truman was going to follow through. this was roosevelt's dream and then he died before the next meeting. >> truman wanted to carry on in roosevelts footsteps of their was a question as to whether truman would move ahead and support it. this is one of the first decisions that the u.n. had to make. >> who was pushing the u.n. to get into this? >> the british handed their mandate to the u.n., so the u.n. had no choice. it was sort of thrown in their lap. there was buried what is more to happen to palestine after the war? >> you get a sense that harry
truman was all alone in that little office. there were not a lot of people telling him to go for it. >> that is not true. there were a lot of people on the white house staff that were pro zionist. he was very lonely. that is for sure. >> i was not thinking the white house staff so much as his cabinet officers. >> i think snyder was more sympathetic towards that kind of view. >> when henry wallace was secretary of congress, he was sympathetic. >> when you march up to the point where harry truman had to make a decision, who was the secretary of state? >> there were three. there was george marshall. >> he was at odds over the state department over this issue. this was very surprising.
eight days after truman became president, he met with a delegation of scientists headed by rabbi stephen wise. he said that he supports the zionist goals. that was tried at the beginning of his administration. that played out over the next few years. truman was very much caught in the middle and he was not always sure what the right thing to do was. >> thomas a becket was there at the un? >> at the un, it was touch and go. thanksgiving vacation was coming right in the middle of the debate. that gave him all extra. they had tally the votes and so many of the small states were on the record of probably going to vote against partition, which meant that the u.s. but the un would have to come out for a revised form.
there was tremendous lobbying, particularly during the thanksgiving break. some of the small states have not yet made up their mind. they favor either a unilateral state or by national state. in the american media, the editor in chief of the magazine was 100 percent zionist, committed to the cause of the jewish state. she pulled out all stops to lobby at the un with very impressive, factual material handed to all the delegates,
including personal lobbying to all the delegates about the reason why there has to be a jewish state and one of the things that she came up with was a memo that indicated that truman saw this. she was the first one to expose the very nefarious role. it was the leader of the palestinian arabs live in berlin during the war and also organized arab troops to join the assets. she exposed the ties of when the followers. this hit the delegates tremendously.
this helped turn some of them against the arabs who wanted no jewish state. this came from classified state department material and have a memo on the book that they knew about all this and wondered how she got this because this was going to create big problems for us and diplomacy. >> did you go back and look at the press coverage? >> we did. that runs throughout the book. >> good to see the front pages of newspapers and was it a big story? >> at times, it was. >> israel captured and killed british soldiers true that would always be a major story. the press was filled with reports about that. >> with the refugee ships, especially the exodus.
" one thing that i've found is what happened at the un. during the course of the u.n. studying the situation, they created a commission and look at the refugee camps and went to palestine and looked up the different communities. we have a lot of great stories about that. during that time, the refugee ship carried jewish refugees from europe and europe's and 3rd gunships and demolished them and decided to send them back to germany in prison ships. this was a disaster for the british in terms of pr. >> what is the story of the st. louis? >> the st. louis was turned back in 1939. >> but it was a ship full of
jews coming to america and roosevelt did not let them land. he has been criticized for not allowing the boat to come here and then they went to cuba and the cubans would not let it land and roosevelt has been criticized that he did not put more pressure on the cubans. it then went back to europe. >> the big failure of american policy is to not open up immigration within the united states that wanted to come here. they did not want jews coming into the united states. truman had little success in trying to change immigration in the united states. when these commissions went to examine what they wanted, they would take side trips to the
camps in europe. they knew that their only hope was palestine. the british said that you could just go back to the country to came from such as poland and czechoslovakia. someone to poland with their families and the poles killed all the relatives said the could not go back and did not want to go back to the countries they came from four very good reasons. the only one to go to palestine. that was their demand. >> would you have been scientists in those early days? >> probably. >> you come from jewish families? >> we have a statement.
one of the officials said -- samuel j. rosen was a truman adviser and said that when he started working for fdr, it was anti scientist, and then during the war he was a non the zionist. >> migrate grandmother from eastern europe. -- my great-grandmother was from eastern europe. >> did you remember when you first had a conscious knowledge of the jewish state? >> there were always people that i knew that was zionist.
it was always very in repertory -- in the periphery. >> my parents were from the old american left. my father was a fellow traveller of the communists. the communists were a soviet supported group. the one -- my parents broke from the doctrine. they supported it and some of their friends put in their wills of the money would not go to their children but to the state of israel. they always favored the creation of a jewish state. >> can you remember when you first thought seriously about the issue? >> yes, it was a little after the jewish state was created.
we had a cousin that ended up in mexico. some of these cousins, my second cousins, they came to the united states and said that our apartment -- they stayed at our apartment. they came through. i knew that we had relatives who lived in israel and were born to settle. >> take a back to the time that the decision was made, what was the boat in the un? >> -- what was the vote in the u.s.? >> it was a very close call. the scientists had a lot of supporters because it one. >> where were the british but
about what i think the british abstained. they did not want to get involved. in the end, they abstained. you really want us to go through all the different areas? the big surprise was that russia was supportive. they have been very anti zionist. >> one week before the famous speech by andrei gromyko, the head of the state department presented a long memo saying that the soviets were adamantly opposed to a jewish state and he explained the strategy. no one here expected that. >> the british never expected that. >> if you read the text of his speech, it was a powerful,
moving, a humanitarian plea on a deep emotional law will for justice for the jewish people. it was not there in the speech. the speech sounds like a top scientist speech and it took everyone by complete surprise. >> if you look at the world population of jews, there are 6 million here and five or 6 million here. were any of these european countries voting to get jews out of the country? >> i think there was a lot of sympathy, especially in western europe for what had happened to the jews. at the french were big supporters of their cause. i think that most of the western
european countries voted for partition. >> there was a lot of small countries. they were countries that needed to support a dispute. there were a huge effort to get the philippines to vote for partition. there were some not so veiled threats to cut off aid. at the last minute, there was a big division in the state department. truman finally gave the word that we want to go all out. he first said that we did not want to high-pressure the states. let them decide what they want. the things giving break came and it looked like truman would give the word to his people to lobby and get them to change their votes. >> what role did eddie jacket supply?
>> an important role -- what role did eddie jacobson play? >> an important role. together, they exert a positive pressure toward favoring -- >> you to explain who he is. >> he is a very old friend of truman's from missouri. they had met when eddie was 14 years old and truman was 21. they did not see each other after that. during world war one, they ended up in the same battalion and truman asked jacobson to help him set up a canteen and it was very successful. it helped truman get promoted within the army. after the war, when there were coming back in 1919, there were both at their loose end.
it only lasted about one or two years and then there was a depression that is all but the two men always maintained their friendship with each other. >> this was a close friend jacobson passed away -- this was a close friend. check of some passed away. truman said he could not imagine having live without him being part of it. jacobson was not a scientist. he was a reformed do. he was reading the newspapers and educated himself from became a supporter and sympathetic to the cause that the zionists were arguing for. >> he was very aware of not wanting to pressure his friend and to take good vantage of the
fact that his old friend was now president of united states. he finally said this is my brethren in europe. this supersedes my desire not to impinge upon the president. at his own expense, he used all his money to cause some of travel back and forth from kansas city to washington dc. finally, in this critical meeting, truman was fed up with the pressure he was getting from all sides he made a strict rule, no more zionist delegates coming to see him. the jewish agency told jacobson that he had to persuade him to see him.
he had been alive for the british in terms of chemical and other materials that the british news did world war one. >> he helped pass the declaration which was the first time a jewish homeland was mentioned in britain. it as a result, with his help, if he had in for the british elite. >> the difference between the militants zionist is the famous incident where a rabbi in came into the white house and wagged
his finger in truman's face true in said he never wanted to see him again. he was wary of the pressure of the zionists. eddie jacobson said that he had never taken advantage of their relationship. it was imperative that truman see him. the world around in his chair and said he was going to set up a meeting. >> that was after partition. the un state department was trying to do this. truman was not seeing any zionists and they were getting
more and more nervous that partition was going to go down and there was one to be a trusteeship. truman would be of a student -- to be able to convince truman. -- he would be able to convince truman. what role did george marshall plan? >> george marshall came into the state department and marshall to essentially reconstructed western europe. when it came to palestine, he said he defers to the state department. he said that he would go along with him. as we said, they had been opposed from the beginning.
he would reverse american policy and back to having the u.s. go back to a trusteeship. the head of the jewish agency in new york became the first ambassador. he said that this is a big conspiracy. there were really conspiring to overturn an established u.s. policy. that was an accurate picture. he was correct about that. it showed how much they were literally conspiring to undermine change american policy. so, you have this famous meeting on may 12, a few days before the actual vote in the oval
office. truman brought in his council. clifford had become another christian scientist. he was very close to max lowenthal and was not in the government but was an advisor to the government. he had been working with him and fervently believed -- he said that he was here because he wanted him here. clark presented a point by point presentation. he was knocking them down and that infuriated marshall. of course, marshall said that if i was voting and you were running for president, you know i would -- i would not vote for you. the great thing about marshall,
he did not like the way truman seemed to be moving, but he was loyal. he said he would oppose the policy, but would not make it public statement and resigned. that is what truman work for. if marshall had gone public and raise a huge state, also was all part. they got marshall to remain quiet. still, no one knew how until may 14 what truman would do. there was a press conference the day before. he had already decided and he had told that others that he was awarded to support a jewish state. the declared the jewish state signed and it was all over.
>> what was the reaction to the newspapers in those days? >> the new york times was kind of skeptical. there were not supporting the zionist position, but in the end, they were stepping back and said that we would support partition. what has to see what happens. >> why would she not be as honest? >> there were some american jews who felt that they would be accused of dual loyalty. there were perfectly happy america. they did not want their status to be threatened in any way. the thought that maybe a creation of a jewish state was threatened. >> there was a group that had some clout back then.
they argue that judaism was just a religion and that there was no reason for them to support a jewish state. they were anti sinus according to the philosophy. >> there was some orthodox of jews that were against the creation of a jewish state on religious grounds. >> what do you think george marshall would say today. would he say i told you so. >> he might. i am not sure. >> one of those things that marshall said was right before truman's announcement where he tried to persuade him to go back to palestine and not declare a jewish state.
marshall coleman that all of his allusions fell four in china. he tried to get the communists to work together. in the whole thing fell apart. i felt he could hold the tide. he said he did not know that was what happened. i am looking at the military situation in palestine, and you cannot win. you're going to be defeated. i know that has got to be the case. the state department believed that the jews of palestine could not win. they were wrong about that. they argued that if the u.s. was committed to a jewish state, then the u.s. would be forced to act.
the jewish leaders in palestine or convinced that they could and would win. >> who were some of the early people in israel? >> he had gone there in the 1920's from the soviet union. he was -- he originated the large labor union. he was probably the most prominent. >> the heat -- his name was mentioned in marshall did not know who he was.
he was very important here. he was another person who came from eastern europe and went to palestine and went through the university and went to the american university in beirut. he spoke five languages. i was going to mention that he represented the jewish agency in a mac and became the first ambassador from israel to the united states. >> he mentioned several people that changed their name. why? >> it wanted to make your the official language and even though many of the first immigrants spoke yiddish that was the language of the and jews. they made a rule that yiddish was forbidden. everybody had to learn hebrew because it was the language of the bible.
they wanted to create a jewish state based on their own national identity with hebrew as a language. the famous ambassador had his mentor. his name was [unintelligible] they all took hebrew names. >> when you talk about a religious state, the last time i had somebody tell me this the only a few went to the synagogue. >> they were from the labor zionist movement. they were all secular zionists and created the labor party
which is what used to beat the powerful governing party. is now quickly fading. these were secular socialists. >> why are so many rules over there based on religion instead of secularism? >> that had to make a compromise with the jews that were religious. there was a religious jewish community there to begin with. part of the compromise was that they were going to let them set some of the social rules. now there are clashes over that. >> we started out talking about when the two of you met and got married. writing a book together, does that help or hurt a marriage? >> we are great partners. >> it is wonderful that we have this in common and that we can travel together. we can put together a story. >> we have different strengths. she is a great organizer.
i find it very tedious to organize and put together material. maybe because i and getting older. she does that and has no problem with it. she creates this outline and puts this stuff together chronologically and arranges that and then i do a first draft. we actually wrote this book it least four times. >> we just kept passing a back- and-forth and rewriting it. >> what is the difference between the beginning in the end? >> the first draft is probably twice as long. >> there was a process of making it readable and cutting out the extraneous parts of it. >> how long did you work on it? >> 2 1/2 years. >> there was one summer remember left the house and never went out to a swimming pool.
>> we want them to know the full story of how israel was created and what trumans' part in it was. we very purposely did it as a narrative history so you see the story from the beginning to the end. >> you see truman sitting in the white house and how he responds on a month-to-month basis. as one of the people wrote, this puts you in the white house and you can see truman responding to decide what to do. it is a great story of presidential power and how it plays out. >> the name radoff, how did that pronunciation come about? >> that is how my parents pronounced it. i think my father's father was a rabbi in poland.
>> next, prime minister's questions at the british house of commons. after that, preparations for that h1n1 flu virus. tomorrow on washington journal, joan biskupic produce the confirmation hearings for judge sotomayor. washington journal blood at 7:00 eastern on c-span. -- live at 7:00 eastern on c-
span. we will replay the proceedings weeknights on c-span to. coming this fall, tour the supreme court on c-span. >> if the truth is it is the opposition that is embarrassed about their past, failing to face up rigid face up to the challenges of the present and have nothing to offer the future. >> billion in for him was harriet harman. -- filling in for him was .
harmon. >> order. questions for the prime minister. >> number one, mr. speaker. >> i have been asked to reply before i take my friends's questions, i am sure the whole house will wish to join me in sending our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the servicemen killed in afghanistan in the last week. they were a commanding officer, trooper joshua hammond, david dennis, robert laws, dane elson, benjamin brown, and a soldier
killed yesterday. we owe these men are deepest -- deepest gratitude. they served our country with distinction in desperately difficult conditions ahead of the very important august presidential elections in that country. they will never be forgotten. mr. speaker, i hope the house will understand if i take a moment to offer my condolences to the family and friends of those killed in the fire on friday. in answer to my friend, the government plans to offer a group paper shortly. >> mr. speaker, i note that we offer condolences to the families who have suffered terrible losses.